You’ve likely already heard that Netflix was going to cancel one of their most popular series, House of Cards, in the wake of the revelations about Kevin Spacey allegedly attempting to molest a 14-year-old child in the 80s. But there’s more news regarding that show which makes it sound as if the company is still of two minds on the subject. Yes, Spacey’s brand is damaged, probably irreparably, so there’s an incentive to put as much distance between Netflix and the actor as possible. But… the money.
First of all, the show isn’t canceled immediately. They’re still going to finish production on season 6 and release it. And beyond that, Variety reports that there are a number of spin-offs in the works which may be moving forward.
Netflix is moving ahead with plans for a “House of Cards” spinoff.
Variety has learned that the streaming service and producer Media Rights Capital are in very early stages of development on multiple ideas for a potential spinoff. One concept revolves around Doug Stamper, the political aide-de-camp played by actor Michael Kelly in the first five seasons of the political drama, with Eric Roth set to write. Roth served as an executive producer on the first four seasons of “House of Cards” and is currently exec producing TNT’s “The Alienist.”
At least two other spinoff ideas are also being explored, though writers have not yet been attached to all of them. All the potential series take place in the same universe as “House of Cards,” a political thriller about Frank Underwood, a devious congressman played by Kevin Spacey who ascends to the role of President of the United States through political and criminal machinations.
To get the unpleasant realities out of the way up front, Netflix is a business in a highly competitive field in our capitalist society and House of Cards is one of their biggest offerings. I get it. It’s tough to simply flush that sort of cash in a principled stand when you’ve got a bottom line to meet.
But weren’t there some other options? There can’t be that much invested in the spinoffs yet. Canceling them and finding some new scripts might not be as easy as waving a magic wand, but we can’t be entirely out of ideas for new shows yet, can we? (Oh, wait… I just looked at the list of movies which came out this year and apparently we are. Sorry.)
The much tougher decision would have been axing season 6 which is well through the process. But if they really wanted to make a statement about not profiting off pederasty, there was surely a workable and at least somewhat less expensive option. Couldn’t they have written the character out of season 6? Yes, they’d have to go back to the drawing board on the plot lines and do some reshooting, but imagine the gasps of surprise when the first episode opened with the funeral of the President. (Spacey is still the President, right? I don’t actually watch the show.) To really drive the point home it could have turned out that Spacey’s character had been revealed to have been involved in a horrible sex scandal and some scored lover took him out.
It would have cost Netflix some money and probably delayed the release a little bit, but they could have salvaged the rest and hung onto their brand while still demonstrating that they were taking a definitive moral stand. And if the viewers respected that enough while still maintaining their love for the series they could have moved forward without canceling it. Heck, it might have revitalized it and gotten them a few more years of profitability. But as it is, they’re leaving us with the impression that they don’t at all approve of Spacey’s scandal and alleged assault, but they’re not quite unhappy enough about it to dip too deeply into their profits.